Thinking of starting your own academic journal?

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There are tens of thousands of journals in medicine, healthcare, and education, but for over a year, Christopher Kevin Wong and Jean Fitzpatrick Timmerberg, professors of rehabilitation and regenerative medicine at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, have started talking about the need for a new one in their field.

The two founded and recently launched the Journal of Clinical Education in Physical Therapy (JCEPT), and they spoke to the CUIMC press room about what motivated them to launch the newspaper and how they got it started.

Journal of Clinical Education in Physiotherapy

Assess the need

According to Timmerberg and Wong, the first and most important consideration is whether there is sufficient demand for a new journal.

In their field, physiotherapy education, there was only one publication. “With more research in the field, there is a long waiting list to publish in this journal, which limits the ability for faculty and students to publish scholarly work and share it with clinicians,” explains Timmerberg.

The limited ability to publish is especially detrimental to young researchers, Wong adds: “In order to develop future faculty, there must be a way to publish academic work and share exemplary case studies. “

Timmerberg and Wong also believed there was a need to share academic work with a wider audience. “Making our journal open access extends readership to the majority of faculty, students, and clinicians who do not belong to the branch of the professional association that publishes the other journal,” Wong said.

Get a reality check

Even if your audience is clamoring for a new journal, are such projects realistic? How does a novice editor identify all the elements that need to be considered to get the project started?

To find out, Timmerberg and Wong first met with Melissa Mendelson, program director at CUIMC’s health sciences library. “She explained that we might consider hosting the journal in Columbia’s library system, instead of a large publishing house,” says Wong. He and Timmerberg presented their concept to the Columbia Libraries Digital Scholarship Department on the Morningside Campus, which supports digital publishing projects at Columbia.

“We thought they would just give us some basic ideas on how to get started, but once they agreed to publish our journal they helped us refine our mission and provided support on a number of issues. ‘elements,’ says Timmerberg.

The library team helped Wong and Timmerberg design a newspaper logo, set up email and Twitter accounts, create a mailing list, and provide a repository for storing legal and copyright documents. . Michelle Wilson, Digital Publishing Librarian and Project Manager for JCEPT and Mehr Ali, an intern at Columbia’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, were assigned to the project to help Timmerberg and Wong run everything smoothly.

Christopher Kevin Wong, PT, PhD, MS (CUIMC)

Columbia Libraries’ online journal software system publishes articles and also helps Wong and Timmerberg manage the journal by tracking article submissions, peer reviews, and communication with authors.

Build credibility

“By creating a peer-reviewed open access journal, we knew we had to make sure our audience didn’t see it as just another predatory journal,” Wong explains. “One way to gain confidence is to recruit an irreproachable editorial board. “

The scholarly communications team recommended starting with six editorial board members, which Timmerberg and Wong supplemented with 10 associate editors, all with three-year terms. The most of JMembers of the CEPT editorial team have significant publishing experience and are geographically and professionally diverse, with multiple academic roles and clinical specialties represented.

At the suggestion of a member of the editorial board, the journal is also piloting an open peer review process. For authors who register, reviewer comments will not be anonymous. “We hope to raise the bar when it comes to communication between authors and reviewers, so that everyone in the process learns something,” says Timmerberg.

Pay the bills

Because the Columbia Library does not cover all aspects of digital publishing, such as editing, proofreading, and composing, the journal charges a small fee to cover these costs after acceptance of an article.

Jean Fitzpatrick Timmerberg, PT, PhD, MHS (CUIMC)

“The item processing fee is a reality, although we will allow residents and fellows to request a waiver,” Wong said.

Wong and Timmerberg also applied for a grant from the Virginia Apgar Academy of Medical Educators at VP&S to cover part of the start-up costs and study effectiveness in reaching their target audience. “With these funds, we will be hosting webinars to encourage people to submit high quality articles and to subsidize some of the article processing fees for Columbia University family members.”

Budget per year and then some

Development of the journal began a little over a year ago. “We’ve had weekly meetings since the start, but each meeting comes with action items, which take longer,” says Wong.

“Setting up the newspaper alone could have been a full-time job,” he adds. “But now that it has been launched, we really don’t know how long it will take to manage it on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.”

Time will tell us.

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